Caring for your horse

Horses can be wonderful as both pets and work animals, but they require the correct care to ensure their health and wellbeing. If you are looking at becoming a horse owner, it is important to be aware of their needs and how to be care for your horse.

Health Checks

We recommend an annual health check for your horse to help in the early detection and prevention of problematic diseases and conditions. Incorporating a health check into your horses routine vaccinations or dental is a great way to keep your horse in good health.


Horses must have access to an adequate amount of good quality feed in the form of roughage (pasture, hay or chaff) to keep them in good body condition. A guide to the amounts to feed is 1-2 kg per 100kg of body weight. You may need to supplementary feed a horse that is being worked regularly or if there is not enough pasture and the horse is losing body condition. Provide a salt lick or mineral block in paddock. Check with your veterinarian for suitable supplementary feeds – grass clippings and many food scraps are not suitable feed as they can cause a horse to become ill.

Healthy weight

It is important that you do not let your horse get too fat or too thin. As a guide, if the ribs are showing it means the horse is too thin. A round rump, big belly and crested neck means the horse is too fat. Ideally ribs should be able to be felt but not be seen.

Regular grooming will alert you to changes in your horse’s health and will accustom your horse to being handled. You should also have your horses checked regularly by a veterinarian.


Clean water must always be available. A dam or self-filling trough is best. Bath tubs, if used, must be checked daily and re-filled if necessary. Dams and self-filling troughs should also be checked frequently. Buckets are not suitable as a permanent water supply as they can be tipped over. As a guide, a horse may drink 25-45 litres per day in hot weather.


Horses need shelter from extremes of sun, wind and rain. Trees or a walk-in shed/stable make suitable shelter. A waterproof rug can be used to protect the horse from cold weather but must be checked daily to ensure it is not rubbing, slipping or leaking.


Horses must have enough space to walk and run around, unless they are exercised daily. Tethering of horses is only acceptable for short periods of time and requires daily supervision and inspection, provision of adequate feed and water, suitable tethering equipment and flat terrain. Horses must not be tethered long-term.


Fences must be kept in good repair to prevent injury and escape. Remove rubbish and weeds regularly to prevent injury to the horse. Be aware to prevent threats such as loose wire or attractions such as a neighbouring horse that can cause a horse to be injured by a fence. 

References:; McConnell, 2019.

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